Tag Archives: church leaders

THE GREAT REVIVAL

Sorry people, just one more tiny wincy memory of London 2012.

The picture that continues to shine ever so brightly in my mind (apart from the gorgeous smiles of Alison Felix and Shelly Anne Fraser Pryce – sorry but they’re just so adorable!!!) is that of thousands of athletes united in a celebration of sports; a celebration of unity; and yes, a celebration of love. I remember I kept wanting to be beamed up (in star trek fashion) to the stadium – to experience what must have been an amazing atmosphere for just a few seconds.

My friend Katie summed it up nicely when she sent me a message, basically saying that it demonstrated the fact that contrary to what many fear, we are not as separate as we might think.

So what was it that united all those people in such loving and joyful celebration?

There is of-course a very strong case that it was simply sports that united them. Indeed I’ve heard it said many times that sports unites’ the world – especially footy – sorry ladies but it’s true! Ok ok – it unites the men of this world anyway!!

But I can’t help feeling that it runs much deeper than that.

I personally believe that we humans were created to love one another. We were created to relate with one another.

We were created to celebrate with each other in times of joy.

We were created to support one another in times of sadness and grief.

We were created to encourage and uplift each other in times of failure.

We were created to share joy with others in their moments of achievement and success.

In short, we were created to help, support and share with one another at all times, in all moments – whether happy or sad.

We were not created to judge one another.

We were not created to put each other down.

We were not created to accuse or slander.

We were not created to bitch about one another.

We were not created to kick others when they’re down.

We were created to LOVE one another.

Please note – the God that created us is a God of love. In-fact just before he created man he said ‘let us create man in our own image’.

Our God is the personification of unconditional love, humility and mercy. So much so that because He knew that we could not attain the righteousness necessary for heaven ourselves, He sent His son to do it for us.

So – the ability to love unconditionally is already inside us.

His greatest commandment is to Love Him (God) with all our hearts, our strength and our minds. His second greatest commandment is for us to love each other, also with all our hearts, strength, and mind.

My next point may seem rather controversial. Trust me – it is aimed as much at myself as it is against anyone else.

I sometimes ask myself – do I really love God? Or do I love Him on condition of what He can do for me?

Do we love Him on condition of how much He can bless us?

Do we go to church out of love or out of the fear of God being displeased with us if we don’t go?

Do we want to serve God in church in that particular area because we passionately want to dedicate those talents He gave us to serving Him? Or is it to please the pastor as well as earn more love from God?

How many of us, myself included, truly love our God unconditionally? By this I mean without any kind of hidden agenda of what He can do for us?

My biggest concern is the message that is being preached in our churches today. It is a message of doctrines (formula) for God’s blessings. What concerns me the most is that we are raising a future generation that is being molded in the belief that money is the answer to everything – fulfillment, joy, peace, the lot. They are being fooled into believe that a relationship with God is all about – ‘a blessing for your fasting, a blessing for your church attendance, a blessing for your tithes, a blessing for your offering (I shudder every time I hear ‘offering time, Blessing time’ in a church). Uuugh!!! Sorry – just shuddered again.

Unfortunately for many, a relationship with God has more or less become – ‘blessing me for my works Lord’.

Many years ago some foreign emissaries visited Nigeria for a couple of days. On their way to the airport, when returning, one of them said, ‘this country is very interesting. I have never seen so many churches. There’s one literally every few metres. And yet there is so much poverty. Surely there’s something wrong there.’

In other words the result of our ‘me me me’ relationships with God is that we have become a nation that is poor in unity, poor in morals, poor in standards, poor in principles, and littered in poverty – all as a direct consequence of our abject ‘poverty in love’.

Once again, I am not attacking church leaders.

We are ALL to blame.

A few years ago after a rip-roaring sermon by a pastor on love, I was so uplifted and so moved by what he had to say that I walked up to him (never met him before, didn’t know him) after the service to thank him for an excellent message. During our very brief conversation I said to him ‘I genuinely believe that the true Great Revival will be love’. When I said this he looked a tad confused and to be quite frank, not at all interested. Not sure whether it was what I said that he wasn’t interested in or maybe he just thought I was rather boring (that’s very possible actually – maybe he just thought I was boring!!!), but anyway, I distinctly remember feeling a little disappointed by the fact that this man didn’t get what I was saying. So, Rather like that poor duck that used to trudge across our TV screens whenever a batsman was out first ball during a cricket match, I also trudged off, feeling sorry for myself, with a small but very irritating cloud hovering over my head.

I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say that so many churches have done so many revivals in Nigeria – most of these revivals revolve around personal breakthroughs of one kind or another. There is nothing wrong with this. Indeed in some aspects it is good and very necessary.

However, I personally believe that the Great Revival that is needed in our land is a revival of LOVE.

So why do we struggle with grasping the importance and necessity of God’s two greatest commandments?

I genuinely believe the reason is because we preach and talk about God’s grace and mercy but we don’t truly believe or walk in it. We still think and behave as if we have to earn God’s love.

The bible says that when we give our lives to Christ, our old self is dead, and our new one (through Christ) is born. However it may just be that due to our unwillingness to accept that Christ has already done ALL the work for us, we continue to work hard every day to get rid of our ‘old self’. In other words we continue to fight a battle that has already been won – by Jesus Christ.

The consequence of this is that rather than focusing on serving God with our hearts, as well as loving and serving others, our focus is primarily on what we can and must do to be BLESSED; what we can and must do to get our BREAKTHROUGH.

As my dear ex would say, “Honestly??!!!!!”

So who are we kidding?!!!! God can see through us and knows exactly where our hearts truly lie. Hello???!!!

I’m not criticizing. I’m just as bad.

But together we can come out of this continuous and terrible cycle of the ‘me me me’ syndrome.

The bible says that ‘love never fails’.

Let’s give it a try.

Let’s accept once and for all that Christ really has done all the work for us.

Let’s start focusing more on how we can love and serve God genuinely – NOT for appearances sake or so that God can bless us and people can say good things about us.

Let’s decide today to STOP the WORKS and DO the LOVE – for GOD and for EACH OTHER.

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BACK TO BASICS

I want to make it very clear that this article is not designed as an attack on the church or church leaders, in any shape or form. Indeed I believe that we are ALL at fault. I’m hoping that this article will open eyes and stir hearts. If it doesn’t, then I genuinely hope it encourages someone else to write something along the same lines with much greater impact.

The only message one seems to hear when attending the average church in Nigeria is ‘prosperity prosperity prosperity’. It is so common and so monotonous that it is almost beginning to sound like those ‘clanging symbols’ that the bible talks about.

Jesus came to earth as a carpenter. He personified humility and love. He personified simplicity. He rarely preached in a church building; and on the second occasion that He did, he was upset by what He saw – a place of business.

Jesus, whom Christianity is all about, told us to ‘go and do likewise’. In other words He wants us to love unconditionally, to give to the poor and needy – both in provisions, time and love, to heal the sick, to encourage and uplift those around us; to spread the great news that He has done all the ‘works’ that will ever be necessary for our permanent justification and righteousness.

When Jesus said that ‘money is the root of all evil’ He obviously wasn’t saying that money is evil. He simply does not want us to have money as the root and centre of our focus. The more money becomes the root and centre of our focus the more likely we are to compromise our faith and principles because of our innate and passionate desire to have it.

Unfortunately the constant prosperity preaching we are bombarded with in our churches isn’t helping at all. There is so much focus on what we must do and how we should do it in order to be ‘blessed’. So much so that Christianity in many churches today has more or less become a formula for blessings and breakthroughs. The result of all this is that our hearts are straying further and further away from God.

Remember, God looks at the heart and not what car we’re driving, how big our house is or how much we have in our bank accounts. It’s almost as if our only focus is earth. The whole point of our faith is that we are assured of blissful eternity in heaven. But way too many of us live our lives as though everything is about this place called earth; as though earth is the final destination.

I am not saying that one should not aspire to be the best they can be or to be successful or wealthy. Indeed, as a staunch Welfare Capitalist who believes that everyone should be given equal opportunity in education, health and housing etc, to go on and do as well as they want to do in their careers, such a notion doesn’t gel with me at all. But this should not be the main focus of Christ’s body. Money and success, as we have defined it, should not be the biggest and loudest messages coming pulpits across the country.

The greatest commandment is to love God with all our hearts and all our minds and all our strength. The second greatest commandment is for us to love each other in the same way.

How often do churches focus on love for one another? What is unconditional love? How do we serve one another? How can we transform our society into one of love, mercy and selflessness? What does it mean to have a heart for God?

Not service in order to be blessed. But service because we love God and love each other.

These are all topics that we should be focusing on more in our churches.
The fact is that we ALL (I know I certainly do) need help in this area – individually, and as a society.

A dire consequence of the constant prosperity preaching is the effect on young people. The youth of today are basically being brought up in an environment that is telling them that money is the root and pinnacle of success. As most of you know, I coach and train people. I often ask delegates what their goal in life is. About 60% of them say ‘I want to be very rich’. When I ask them why they want to be very rich they tend to get stuck.

Many are chasing wealth but don’t know why. This constant desire and chasing of wealth will more often result in frustration, emptiness and anxiety. Worse still, it results in a nation of ‘self’.

Listen out for the loudest Amen in church and you’ll find that it is when the pastor says something like ‘God will bless you’.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong in saying that. However there is a danger in there being too much focus on this, as it inevitably leads to a rather selfish society; the very antithesis of Christ’s message.

Christianity is fast becoming a faith of ‘self’.
We need to go back to basics; back to the heart of Christ.

I wrote this article because I sincerely believe that we ALL need help in this area. As far as I am concerned church leaders have a huge responsibility to help to create a selfless and loving society.

Every Sunday we pray for God to heal our land. We pray for God’s kingdom to reign in our leaders’ hearts.

Guess what!!!!

We need to start praying more fervently for God’s kingdom (of love, humility, service to God and service to each other) to reign in OUR hearts.

For our country to change, WE must change.

We must change from being a people of ‘self’ to being a people of ‘selflessness’.

The tool that God wants to use to change our hearts and mind-sets is the church.

This is a responsibility that church leaders must embrace.

We need to go back to Love and Service.

A nation in which we are our brother’s (and sister’s) keeper.

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